BY HAZEL REID

The new season of Popstars has been all over screens during the past few weeks with a variety of fresh up-and-coming local music talent. Tearaway attended the final concert featuring the Top 4 Popstars contestants over the weekend to see their performances live in the flesh.

Friday’s show at the Powerstation was being filmed for this Tuesday’s episode of the series so if you’ve ever been to a TV shoot like this, you’ll know there is a lot of doing ‘takes’ multiple times – the MC Sam Smith (the NZ comedian, not the British Singer, just to clarify!) did his best to keep the crowd in high spirits so that the TVNZ2 film crew could get those all-important audience shots.

I had purposefully not listened to the Top 4’s singles they had released earlier in the day as I wanted to get the full live effect from them during the show, I can confirm now that I didn’t regret this decision – hearing the songs live for the first time was the way to go! After the Levites (an incredible sessions band who regularly perform with the likes of Stan Walker, Kings and Jess B) were introduced, the judging panel – Kimbra, Vince Harder and Nathan King joined the crowd so that the evening’s performances could get underway. The crowd was a mix of friends, family, industry folk and the general public, meaning there were a variety of eyes seeing what the Top 4 could offer. 

Kicking off the Top 4 part of the evening was TJ, who goes by ZExII, performing his debut single TMRW Maybe. If you’ve seen him on Popstars, you’ll know he’s known for his versatility and this new release (and the way he performed it) was no excuse, it was so good and I agree with the judging panel’s earlier comments that he is a type of performer we need in NZ.

Next up we heard Skye Hine’s debut single Outlier, a song that had been inspired by her journey on Popstars. As the sound rattled the venue and Skye’s vocals shined, it definitely left the crowd wanting more. 

Christabel jumped on stage to perform If You Ain’t Looking, a song written to inspire people to keep going regardless of the situation. The arrangement of the track really showcased Christabel’s vocals and the backing from the Levites really took it to the next level.

The final Top 4 performance of the night (and the ones with the loudest supporters – I’m talking chanting before, during and after) was girl group A.R.T, formerly Le ART, who introduced their single Be Ready, as a song that’s about “broke girls who get to dream” – their voices gel so well together and they really showed they had more than one trick up their sleeves with that performance. 

After the Top 4 performed their debut singles, the second part of the night flowed on with local musical sibling duo Ben & Brody performing an acoustic medley that included their cover’s of No Diggity and Thrift Shop. They also played Emotions and Open Up, a tune they had recently released. Kings, who had mentored the contestants earlier in the season, took the stage with his version of Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic. Kings was also joined by the Levites saying, “It’s the Levites featuring Kings tonight”, before launching into high energy performances of Don’t Worry Bout It, Six Figures and his collaboration with Sons of Zion, Help Me Out

Rounding out the night, the audience was treated to a special set from Kimbra that included the premiere of Replay, from her upcoming fourth album, I loved it and can’t wait to hear more new music soon. Kimbra also lit up the stage (and not just from her sparkly hair & make-up) with a performance of On Top of The World, it was so polished and had the crowd hoping for a full set/tour sometime soon.

You can stream all the Top 4’s songs online now and you can also catch all of the episodes of Popstars on TVNZ on Demand now ahead of Wednesday’s final where this series’ winner will be announced and I know after seeing them all live, we’re in for a treat regardless of who it is! 

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